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Maryland lawmaker favors reduction in boat tax cap

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — At least one Maryland lawmaker is hoping to further lower a tax cap on boats so the state can better compete with neighboring states in sales.

Delegates Speaker Michael Busch, who was honored Tuesday by the Marine Trade Association of Maryland in Annapolis, said passing Maryland’s tax cap bill on boats not only helps Maryland’s waterways, it also helps the whole industry thrive.

“This bill had two benefits,” Busch told a crowd of about 100 association members. “One, it put money into our Waterway Improvement Fund, and the other thing was it capped the excise tax at $15,000 and encourages people to buy more boats in the state of Maryland. After two or three years, we’re going to look at whether we can’t bring it down further. It not only brings more boat buyers to Maryland, it also brings more craftsmanship and repairs here to Annapolis. That’s the reason we’re called the sailing capital of the world and we’d like to keep that title.”

In April, the Maryland General Assembly passed Senate Bill 90, which caps Maryland’s vessel excise tax at $15,000 a vessel. For vessels under $300,000 the tax cap offers no benefit, but for vessels above $300,000 the tax savings can be enormous.

Trade association president George Dunigan presented the award to Busch, saying that “without Mike’s help it wouldn’t have gotten done.”

Busch then presented Dunigan with the pen used to sign the bill.

Trade group legislative consultant John Stierhoff told the group that the number of boats coming back to the state of Maryland since the cap's approval is being closely monitored.

“This provides an opportunity to bring some of these big boats back, not just for the sale, but for the yards and repair,” Stierhoff said. “It’s a huge opportunity for us. The Greater Baltimore Committee called for a review of the state tax system, so the luxury taxes on boats may come up again.”

— Reagan Haynes

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